Festival, parade kick off first weekend of Dogwood Trails 

85th Annual Dogwood Trails Celebration

By Cheril Vernon

Messenger Copy Editor

PALESTINE – With almost perfect weather on the horizon for Saturday, March 18, the first weekend of the 85th Annual Dogwood Trails Celebration is scheduled to kick off with a variety of festivities including The Dogwood Arts & Music Festival, parade, car show and more.

The Dogwood Arts & Musical Festival, slated for Saturday, March 18 in downtown Palestine will be headlined by Texas musical artist and national artist Tori Martin.

“We are very excited about the festival and bringing in Tori Martin from Azle, Texas and kicking off her “Blue Light” Tour in Texas. It’s a great thing to have someone of her stature in the music industry to kick off their tour from here,” said Angela Howell-Fields, President of the Board of Directors for the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce. 

To kick off her tour and to help promote the Dogwood festival, Martin will be doing a big promotion Friday (March 17) with “blue light specials” at various local businesses throughout the day. For more about this event, contact the Palestine Chamber of Commerce.

From 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 17, the Dogwood Arts & Music Festival will kick off with a VIP Art Tent Gala in downtown Palestine. Tickets are $20 available at the door or in advance at the Chamber office.

“We have local artists, out of state artists as well as student artists that will be featured in our Art Tent both Friday and Saturday. The Art Tent will be open to the public on Saturday during the festival for people to view and purchase art,” Howell-Fields said. “The amount of artists we had from last year to this year has doubled. We have worked hard to upscale the festival to feature more arts and music as opposed to just arts and crafts.”

Those who have purchased the official Dogwood Arts & Music Festival Poster for the last four years can purchase the fifth and final poster from renowned artist William E. Young in the Art Tent.

“These are exclusive as only 100 of the posters were made starting with the first year in 2019. So if you have the other posters, be sure to pick up the fifth one this weekend, Howell-Fields said.

Starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 18, the 85th Annual Dogwood Trails Celebration Parade will start at the Anderson County Courthouse and continue through the downtown area with the theme “Musicals.”

The parade route starts at the courthouse square, down Avenue A to Spring Street, then turns on to Queen Street, then Crawford Street and back up to the courthouse square.

“We think it’s going to be a good parade. With the theme of the parade as musicals, I have heard that we are going to have some really good floats,” said Melissa Ward, President-Elect for the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. 

Following the parade, the festivities will move back downtown as the streets fill with festival-goers for the Dogwood Arts & Music Festival featuring arts and crafts vendors, food trucks, a kids zone, musical stage, the Art Tent and much more. 

“We have over 100 vendors if you include the food trucks, arts and crafts and specialty items that are not just arts and crafts,” Ward said.

Families will want to bring the kids to the festival for sure to enjoy the Kids Zone, which will include the popular mechanical bull ride, bounce houses and slides, as well as the miniature train, among other attractions.

“We also will have Laser Tag in Old Town in the Hollow,” Ward said. 

The Main Stage will be located at the corner of Magnolia and Main streets with music starting at 11 a.m. with Tori Martin. At 1 p.m., Davi J and the Bourbon Street Experience will perform jazz/motown music. At 3 p.m., Louis Giron will deejay Latino and Hispanic music.

“We will be featuring three different genres of music during the day,” Howell-Fields said. “Budlight will sponsor the Beer Garden featuring Anheuser-Busch products and craft beer to enjoy while you listen to the music – right next to the Main Stage.”

The first 500 people to enter one of the five gates of the festival on Saturday morning will receive swag bags courtesy of Shelby Savings Bank featuring swag from local businesses.

“The Chamber also is hosting free tours and free photo opportunities inside the Historic Event Center on Crawford Street from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. ,” Ward said. “You can take tours of the establishment, or if you have a phone, you can take pictures. I have one friend who will be taking senior pictures inside the venue as it is a very nice venue for photographs.”

Other events in the downtown area on Saturday, March 18 for the first weekend of the Dogwood Trails Celebration include the Stained Glass Tours at four downtown churches. For a schedule, visit www.visitpalestine.org or call 903-723-3014.

The Cars of Palestine also will be holding their 34th annual Cars of Palestine People’s Choice Car Show from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Palestine Senior Activity Center, located at 200 N. Church St., adjacent to the downtown area.

Also in Palestine on Saturday will be the Boston Porter Memorial Events – including Boston’s Buckaroos kid Rodeo, featuring mutton busting, stick horse barrel races, goat scramble, hay hauling and chuck wagon races at 1 p.m. at the Anderson County Fair Grounds. Tickets are $8 for kids to participate. In the evening, the whole family can come back for the Boston Porter Memorial Rodeo at the Anderson County Riding & Roping Arena. Tickets will be available at Cavender’s Boot City for $12 in advance or $15 at the gate. Children 6 and under can get in free. 

Anderson County Extension Agent Truman Lamb confirmed dogwoods are blooming around Palestine and should be in great shape for the three-weekend festival.

“I would think with all of the moisture we have got, that we will probably have a very nice little show of dogwoods and color,” Lamb said.

The best place to see dogwoods in bloom in Palestine is at Davey Dogwood Park, located off North Link Street, which features more than 5 miles of driving trails and hundreds of dogwood trees.

While at Davey Dogwood Park, be sure to visit the Fairy Garden Trails, which are located near the pavilion.

“We have put out 65 fairy gardens built by community members and from those far away as Houston and Austin and one grandma visiting from Florida,” said Tourism Project Coordinator Katie Beth Henry with the Palestine Visitors Center. “They are very extensive. This is the fifth year we have done this and it has gotten really big.” 

Henry also encouraged local patrons and out-of-town visitors to enjoy everything Palestine has to offer during the festival this weekend – and the next two weekends.

“The festival this weekend is a family friendly event. Definitely, hit the parade No. 1 to start off your morning, then walk through the vendors and shops at the festival. The kids have their space in the kids zone, while the mommas can shop and enjoy themselves. There’s something for all ages.”

If nothing else, Henry said to be sure to try some of the festival fare.

“My favorite is a corn dog and fresh squeezed lemonade. And you can’t go without cotton candy and funnel cake. Everything is so good!”

For a complete list of events and more information about the Dogwood Trails Celebration and the Dogwood Arts & Music Festival, visit www.visitpalestine.org or www.palestinechamber.org.

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